How to prepare for your End Point Assessment
The EPA for a L5 Technician Scientist standard comprises two parts:
This guide is designed to complement the information contained in the EPA plan for your apprenticeship standard and is not intended to replace conversations with your training provider, manager and EPAO. You can find your EPA plan by going to the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IfATE) website.
To pass through gateway and on to EPA, you will have completed a workplace problem solving project. For your EPA, you must prepare a report on this project, present it and answer questions about it from an assessment panel.
Check the assessment plan for your standard – it will tell you what knowledge, skills and behaviours you are being assessed on in this part of the EPA, and it will also tell you what the assessors will be looking for to grade you as pass, fail or distinction. Materials supplied by the EPAO should help you to understand the differences and expectations between the grading criteria; you can ask for them and read through so you know exactly how to achieve the best grade.
In preparing the report, you should consider the specific parameters that it will need to fulfil, such as word count, deadline and particular sections that you should include. You should look at the EPA plan for your standard to understand exactly what you should be covering.
If your report is about a team project that you were involved in, you should focus on the specific contribution that you made to the project, in the context of the wider project aims. The assessor will want to know about the work that you did and what impact it had.
When you have drafted your report, ask your supervisor or workplace mentor to look over it and suggest improvements. Make sure you allow plenty of time for this as your finalised report will need to be submitted to your EPAO two weeks before the agreed date for panel. This is to allow the assessor plenty of time to review your report and formulate questions about it.
Once you have completed your report, it will be a good time to start working on your presentation. Check the assessment plan for your standard to find out how long your presentation should be, what it should cover and how long the questioning afterwards will take.
You might want to prepare slides or other supporting resources, such as a video, to add texture to your presentation. If you are making slides, try to keep the amount of text on them to a minimum and try to make them eye catching. Photos and schematics from your work will make the slides interesting for the panel to look at while you are talking without distracting them from listening to you.
Top tip: ‘Don’t hide behind the scientific terminology or acronyms. Explain what you are discussing in basic terms to prove you understand all aspects of the work you did. The panel/assessor may ask you for more complex or in-depth information afterwards. This allows the panel/assessor to get a great feel for your overall knowledge of the subjects discussed.’
Simon Jukes, Director, EPAO for scientific apprenticeship standards
Practise delivering your presentation, both by yourself and to an audience. This will help you to make sure it is the right length (not over or under the specified time) and to build your confidence, which will help you be less nervous on the day.
If you are worried about forgetting what to say, write yourself detailed notes that you can refer to during your presentation. Make sure that, if you are printing these out, they are in a large enough font and well spaced, so that you will be able to follow them easily and not lose your place.
After your presentation, the panel will ask you some questions about it, your project and your report. The number of questions they ask will vary, depending on your standard, so check the assessment plan so you know what to expect.
Some of the questions will be about your technical knowledge and understanding of your work, others will be ‘competency based’ questions. These types of questions are designed to understand whether you have developed the professional skills and behaviours required to be occupationally competent. They may start with things like ‘can you explain how you…’ or ‘can you give an example of a time that you have…’, and to answer these questions well, it is helpful to give a specific example from your own recent work.
With competency-based questions, it is helpful to answer in the ‘SHARE’ format. Each letter in the word ‘SHARE’ represents a different component of a good competency example. Using this model helps you to make sure that you cover all the key information that the assessors will want to see.
This is not a way of talking that most of us are used to, so practise! Look at the assessment plan for your standard and think about examples of the skills and behaviours that they will be looking for evidence of. If you are struggling to think of an example for each skill or behaviour that you might be asked about in this section, talk to your supervisor or colleagues, who may be able to make helpful suggestions. Your competence log from your apprenticeship will also be a good source of examples.
The point of a vocational competence discussion (VCD) is for you to show the assessor that you fully understand the requirements of your role as defined by the apprenticeship standard.
For both standards, there are eight categories of question that the assessor can ask you, and they will ask you one question relating to each category. It will usually take around two hours. The assessor might take notes and might record the discussion.
Check the assessment plan for your standard – it will tell you what the eight categories of question are and may give some examples of the types of questions you could be asked. The assessment plan will tell you which knowledge, skills and behaviours the assessor will be looking for evidence of, and what you will need to do to get a pass or a distinction. You should answer each question with specific examples from your own experience in your role.
Top tip: ‘I very much prioritised my university work over my EPA. This caused me to suffer when my EPA was approaching as I was fairly unprepared. So, I would encourage anybody doing both at the same time to schedule in plenty of time for EPA evidence gathering. If I were to do it again, I would also practise my answers more and have a firmer idea of which evidence fits the criteria.’
Amber Johnston, Laboratory Technician. Completed the level 6 laboratory scientist EPA.
You will be able to bring your vocational competence evaluation log into the discussion and refer to it to help you find good answers for the questions. Make sure that your evaluation log is clearly laid out and easy to navigate so that you can quickly find the evidence that you want to talk about (you might want to edit it down a bit so it’s not too long). When you are looking at the evidence in your portfolio, think about which category of question it relates to and how you could incorporate particular pieces of evidence into your answers. Try to have more than one piece of evidence or example for each of the question categories so that you can talk about the one that best answers the question you have been asked. This will also help you to ensure that you have a specific example to talk about for each question, rather than only being able to talk hypothetically.
Your EPAO may have support materials, such as example questions, that you can request.
If you are unclear on the question, ask the assessor to repeat it so that you can be confident that you are giving them the information they need.
When preparing for your VCD, ask your workplace mentor or supervisor to go through some practise questions with you.
You could try answering in the SHARE format (see previous section) to get used to making sure you cover all of the necessary detail, even if you don’t stick to this format on the day. When answering, talk in the first person (say ‘I’ instead of ‘we’) and keep the example about specific things that you did. You should also take time to familiarise yourself with your company’s policies and procedures and the regulations that relate to the work that they do.